In mid-October, opposition parties Renamo and Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) said that they reject the official results of the 15 October general and provincial elections, which give Frelimo a landslide victory. The provisional results have gradually been made public, while the final results are expected two weeks after the elections. Both opposition parties claimed electoral fraud and criticized violence committed by security forces. They argued that violence undermined the 6 August peace agreement, and added that the government should have ensured free, fair and transparent elections in view of providing democratic legitimacy to the attained peace. Of note, Renamo leader Ossufo Momade said that state-sponsored violence violated the peace agreement.
Renamo held a Political Commission meeting on 21 October to discuss the party’s next moves regarding the electoral results. Prior to the meeting, Renamo demanded the annulment of the elections and called for new elections monitored by competent entities. Afterward, the party issued a final declaration stating that it will not recognize the results due to irregularities, namely fraud and vote-rigging; it also demanded the release of Renamo members detained during the electoral period and criticized police repression and violence. The statement ended with a commitment to engage with civil society and the international community “to find solutions to reinstate the electoral truth.”
In our view, despite declaring that the government had breached the peace agreement, Renamo is unlikely to take up arms before exhausting all other alternatives. Doing so would deteriorate its image among civil society and the country’s international partners. As such, it will take legal action instead. Of note, Renamo has already applied to a court in Nacala city, Nampula province, to annul the results due to “irregularities and discrepancies,” including stuffing of ballot boxes, excessive numbers of voters in several polling stations, and results sheets lacking official stamps and signatures.
However, taking legal action will very likely prove unsuccessful, as the October 2018 elections showed, when most applications were rejected. Of note, Renamo Secretary General Andre Magibire stated that the party had access to evidence for the courts, but lacked witnesses since polling station staff and party delegates at stations were expelled on election day. For instance, in the last elections, the Constitutional Court responded to some Renamo applications saying that the party lacked documentary and witness evidence to support fraud allegations. In our view, the Constitutional Council, which is politically influenced, will continue to reject similar applications, especially those that would be unfavorable to Frelimo.
The official provisional results give Frelimo a landslide victory across the board. They also indicate that Renamo will not be able to elect a single provincial governor, which was one of its main goals ever since the electoral system was changed to allow for governors to be elected rather than appointed by the president. That may not happen even in opposition stronghold provinces, such as in Nampula province, where Frelimo reportedly secured around 65% of the vote.
In our view, Renamo’s failure to meet electoral expectations and the likely rejection of legal appeals will weaken Momade’s position in the party, which saw a splinter armed faction elect a new parallel leadership in August. In turn, this faction will likely increase its influence and attract support from the Renamo ranks as it adopts an increasingly bellicose stance against the alleged fraud. We assess that the group will continue attacking vehicles along main roads in central provinces, trying to force the government to renegotiate the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process, which was a core issue behind its decision to break away from Renamo.